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Big 12's Bowlsby Transfer Portal a 'Colossal Mistake'

Jason Scott

The so-called transfer portal, the name applied to the pool of collegiate student-athletes who’ve voiced an interest in transferring from their current schools, has been a source of conversation and consternation in the college athletics community — and yesterday at the NACDA conference a number of college commissioners had the opportunity to address the issue.

A panel featuring the commissioners of the ACC, Big 12 and SEC spoke about the transfer portal, along with a number of other issues facing college athletics. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, however, is the one who grabbed headlines for saying that the portal — which sets up different guidelines depending on the different sports — was a “colossal mistake.”

According to ESPN, student-athletes in football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and ice hockey must sit out one year prior to joining a new team under the current transfer rules, unless they’re given a waiver by the NCAA making them immediately eligible. Student-athletes in other sports, however, are granted immediate eligibility, provided they only transfer once.

Bowlsby told the audience at the panel that he’d prefer a uniform rule requiring all transfers to sit out for a year.

“We would have been much better off if there was always a transfer residence requirement in all sports,” Bowlsby told ESPN. “Everyone sits out and gets acclimated and then have a chance to get a year back by graduating.”

Despite this opinion, Bowlsby said that he isn’t necessarily pushing for change on the subject.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford had a different take on the issue, saying that the transfer portal represents a step in the right direction. Swofford said that he’d prefer to find a sweet spot between roster management and empowering student-athletes to make the best choices for themselves.

Bowlsby said that a uniform policy requiring transferring student-athletes to sit out a year would be helpful in deterring those student-athletes wishing to transfer “purely for athletic reasons.”

“People would think hard about whether they wanted to transfer if they had to sit out a year,” Bowlsby told ESPN. “They would think about whether or not they were planning to graduate and, in doing so, get their year back. I think it would cause them to think more about their initial choice of schools at the outset. I think all those are good things.”

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